2 inmates drown in police van swept away by Florence flooding

Modesto Morganelli
Settembre 19, 2018

Two mental health patients have been killed after the HCSO transport van they were in was overcome with flood waters, according to an Horry County official in SC.

Marion county coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed the two women - 45-year-old Wendy H. Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette T. Green - died at the scene.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday morning. Deputies waited on top of the van until high-water rescue teams arrived.

The two victims were originally reported to be detainees, but officials have clarified they were patients at nearby mental hospitals.

The Little Pee Dee River reached major flood stage after Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend and is expected to crest at 16 feet on September 21, seven feet higher than flood stage. "We are fully co-operating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event". He said the two deputies involved had been placed on administrative leave and he had launched an internal investigation.

According to ABC affiliate WPDE, the patients were being transported from Loris Hospital Waccamaw Center for Mental Health to McLeod Health, which runs multiple facilities in the region.

"Tonight's incident is a tragedy", said Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson. 'Just like you, we have questions we want answered'. "People need to know exactly how it happened".

The van was attempting to cross a flooded area of Highway 76 in Marion County when it got swept away, according to cops.

"The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported", a statement from the Horry County sheriff's office noted.

Police officials told The Sun News that the deputies tried to help the victims, but couldn't open the van doors because the water was rising too fast.

According to a release from the Horry County Sheriff's Office, deputies were transporting two detainees from Conway to Darlington when the transport van was overtaken by flood waters.

Florence has claimed eight lives in SC thus far, and flooding is expected to worsen later this week and into next. At this time, the recovery effort is ongoing, and the transportation vehicle can not be removed due to rising waters and unsafe conditions. "This incident is being investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)".

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